Tuesday, 30 July 2013

No More Glen Abbey

courtesy of Canadian Golfer
Yesterday evening I listened to Bill Paul talk on the Fan 590 and mention that Glen Abbey was a great host and remains part of their long term plans. I threw up in my mouth at the thought. I watched the event and found it extremely dull to watch. The architecture plays no real role in the outcome since the players are essentially blasting away all day. It felt just like a typical tour event.
When the RCGA sold Glen Abbey to Clublink it agreed to host the Canadian Open there five more times over 20 years. That commitment is now finished and it’s time that Golf Canada says good bye to that venue. I get that all the infrastructure is in place and the planning is already 90% done. But just because it’s easy to set up and works well for Golf Canada is not the reason to have the event there.
Many years ago a few key people in the golf industry were canvased about how to bring up the stature of the Canadian Open. The overriding belief was the event needed to get away from the Angus Glens and Glen Abbeys and be played on our very best courses. At that time the suggestion was a regular rotation of five courses with an occasional outlier for excitement.
The rotation would be: St. George’s and Hamilton in Toronto, Royal Montreal and an alternative course in Montreal and Shaughnessy in Vancouver. The suggested outlier was originally going to be Banff Springs (done to address the lack of an event in Calgary), but that died during negotiations. Everyone was on board until the limits on visitors to the town that week would not be adjusted for the event. It no longer worked and the idea was shelved.
The recent issue that has cropped up is Royal Montreal, Hamilton and St. George’s are willing hosts, but would prefer a seven year cycle to reduce the inconvenience to the members. Shaughnessy on the other hand seems willing and may pick up some of the slack. Let them. Don’t find another high end public track or a new private course in the middle of nowhere, stick to the plan of the best historical courses in the major cities where that legacy can be used to attract the players and sponsors.
The Canadian Open has a great history before Glen Abbey. In 1969 the event was considered for a World Cup with the other four majors. But creating a permanent home at Glen Abbey slowly eroded the event from a National Championship down to a typical tour event. Everyone overlooked that great venues in great cities attract great players. It’s time to move on past the “conveniences” of Glen Abbey and play at only the best venues. Our national championship deserves it.


  1. Amen brother! I didn't watch this year - how could I after watching the US open at Merion and British at Miurfield?

  2. I have read your post a couple of times and feel compelled to comment. I spent a few days at Glen Abbey last week and left on Sunday evening thinking what a great spot it is to hold the Open.

    According to you I was very wrong. Your opinion might have come from in front of your TV. Were on-site at all during the week? The course held up well and many creative shots had to be played. Especially when the wind came up on Sunday aft. A Bomber didn't win the trophy. A bomber did win last year at Hamilton though.

    There was a very positive feeling and buzz every day that I was there. The Centre area by the Clubhouse had lots of traffic and happy golf fans. Friends running into each other and stopping to chat.

    The course conditions were excellent. Birdies and Eagles created golf roars that had people turning to see where something had happened.

    Not one person Threw up in the mouth that I saw.

    Perhaps if you called Clublink and suggested that you should do a reno it would be a better spot for any future Open.

    1. If you want this to be considered a major tournament, two things have to happen.

      Firstly, the course has to play like a major. That means winning requires shooting 1 or 2 under for the tournament and the cut on Friday is +6 or +8. Mistakes have to cost strokes every time, not just one here and there. Players want to attend the majors because it MEANS something to win. It used to mean something here.

      I think the characteristics of an Open (major) event has players thinking on EVERY shot, not just the occasional one like Glen Abbey.

      Second, the event has to move back one or two weeks to give players a better chance of recovering from The Open. RBC will only put up with the quick turn around flights and chasing players to show up for so long. Moving the Canadian Open back a week or two opens up possibilities across the country.

      My two cents.

  3. What about Toronto GC? It has a great location close to the QEW and close to downtown hotels and airport. It has a par 3 course that could be used for tents, etc and if necessary you could use some space at Lakeview across the road? The course is maybe a bit short at 6836 but that isn't much different from Hamilton I don't think.

    I guess the question is do the members want it?

  4. There are so many other great courses in Canada that can hold the Canadian Open. There is no reason other than convenience to hold the event at Glen Abbey, which is a boring course. It's status has been relegated to the equivalent of the John Deere Classic IMO when it is at Glen Abbey. If it were not for RBC sponsoring the event, and also RBC making an effort to get players from the UK to Toronto quickly after the Open, many of the better players, who happen to be on RBC's payroll, would not have attended (ie. Snedeker, Kuchar, Els, Johnson, Donald etc.). Take the course to better courses such as Royal Montreal, and Shaunnessey, and you get better fields and more prestige.

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed your days at the Abbey. I've been many times with my father over multiple decades. You can see a lot of golf easily and there certainly is a lot of birdie opportunities coming home.

    Here's some food for thought.

    How many running approaches can you play? How many greens are built around a ponds? Outside of the 17th green what distinguishes the upper holes from one another?

    I'm glad you enjoyed your day ... I still hope they never go back.

  6. @Blaine - Is Royal Montreal really that different? Ian - what is your view of Royal Montreal? I am sure there is another course in the Montreal area where you would suggest that the tournament could be held ;-)

  7. I have played Glen Abbey a few times and to me it is just another golf course. Now Hamilton G&C is spectacular and the last time the Open was played there the pros raved about it. I agree. Kiss Abbey goodbye. Also this is our national championship and all efforts should be made to play at different venues across the country.

  8. @Lloyd - What do you mean by across the country? Is Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver sufficient or do you want it to go to other smaller cities as well?

    If you mean other cities then you are likely giving up lots of revenue plus it may not work as well for RBC in allowing them to use it as a marketing vehicle. If you hold the event in Saskatoon or Halifax are you going to be able to sell 50 ProAm groups at $15,000 per group (for the Wednesday ProAm) and another 50 groups at a bit of a lower price for the Monday ProAm. And are you going to sell lots of gallery tickets at $80/day or so?

    Don't forget that the PGATour is first and foremost a big business.

  9. I would like to think that the Westmount Golf & Country Club in Kitchener-Waterloo would be a prime candidate for the Canadian Open.

    IMHO this is a venue that is more than worthy of holding a prominant spot on the future rotation for all reasons previously mentioned.

  10. I echo the comment of Lloyd. First and foremost, this is our National Championship and it should be played at different venues in different cities across the country. Second, it is a PGA event, and the PGA plays events in markets much smaller than Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Quebec City, and Winnipeg are all viable locations, provided suitable courses can be secured for the event. It's not the size of the city that makes the event. It's the quality of the field, the prestige of the event, and neither of these are going to improve if we keep going back to Glen Abbey. Canadian golf fans outside of Tor-Mtl-Vcr deserve to occasionally have our National Championship in their back yard.

  11. I have been to Royal Montreal twice, let me tell you, getting and leaving there is no fun. I will never go back.I went to Gleen Abbey once and enjoyed it. As long as The Canadian Open is the week after The Open, you will never get all the big stars to come and play. The only reason we got as many this year is because they are sponsored by RBC.

  12. The thing that bugs me the most about the open is the tv coverage, brutal at best not national tittle worthy.has tv times like a small pga event needs to be run like a national title should be HUGE.

  13. If you don't try new venues then how do you know how they will be accepted. I am from the prairies. I would love to see the event played here. The economy is thriving here better then it ever has. Sponsors would come and the fans in Manitoba and Saskatchewan would support it. I have little doubt about that. I found it a little boring and is to far to travel to watch. We want a shot and I believe we deserve it. It is a national event right

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